The air in indoor environments like our homes is often full of pollutants produced from things like paint, plastics, carpet, cleaners, furniture, and building materials. On average, indoor air can actually be 2-5 times more pollutants than outdoor air.
Indoor air pollutants have even been known to cause a variety of health conditions in some people, including asthma, allergies, headaches, eye and skin irritations, sore throat, colds, flu, memory loss, dizziness, fatigue, and depression .
|Formaldehyde||Carpets, Upholstery, Glues, Paints|
|Benzene||Plastics, Synthetic Fibers, Lubricants, Rubber, Pesticides|
|Trichloroethylene||Paint Removers, Rug Cleaning Solutions, Adhesives|
Fortunately, there are plants that we can keep in our homes and other indoor spaces that can help to clean the indoor air by removing harmful pollutants for us, and make it a healthier environment.
The following houseplants are great additions to indoor spaces that can make them a much healthier place to live, work, and play [2,3]. Be sure to ask before purchase if any of these plants might be harmful to pets or children if consumed.
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Pollutants purified: Benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia.
- Growing conditions: Can grow in both low and bright light conditions (it won’t produce its white flower in low light conditions, however). Keep soil moist, and feed the soil every month during spring and summer using an all-purpose fertilizer.
- Care: Keep the leaves dust-free to maximize the air-cleaning benefits of this plant.
- Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis).
- Description: A plant group that contains plants of many different shapes, sizes and colors.
- Pollutants purified: Formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, and trichloroethylene.
- Growing conditions: Varieties include the Corn plant ( fragrans ‘Massangeana’), ‘Lemon Lime’ (D. deremensis ‘Lemon Lime’), and the day glow ‘Limelight’ (D. deremensis ‘Limelight’), which all do well in low light. The variety Madagascar Dragon Tree (D. marginata) does well in bright light. Soil for all varieties should be moist but not overly wet, and must have good drainage.
- Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
- Description: This 3-6’ tall plant helps to moisturize a room, serving as a good addition to living spaces during dry winter months.
- Pollutants purified: Formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene, and chloroform.
- Growing conditions: Needs bright light, but not direct sunlight. Soil should remain moist. Feed feed monthly with an all purpose fertilizer.
- Care: Spider mites can be deterred from the plant where air is freely circulating and by misting the plant occasionally.
- Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
- Description: A durable, and very effective plant at purifying indoor air.
- Pollutants purified: Formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, and carbon monoxide.
- Growing conditions: Grows in any light situation except direct sunlight
- Care: Water when soil is dry to the touch. Feed once a month with all purpose liquid plant food. Trim the long tendrils when they get really long. Can be planted in indoor baskets, as well as in 6-inch pots on stands to allow the tendrils to cascade over the edge.
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Description: Indoor evergreen climbing plant. Can be grown in hanging baskets or containers.
- Pollutants purified: Removes allergens like mold and animal feces. Benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
- Growing conditions: Green-leaved varieties: grow in bright, indirect light and low light. Pale, variegated varieties: need bright, indirect light.
- Care: Water generously during growth.
Keep moist but not sopping wet through the winter. Apply a light fertilizer once monthly during active growth.
- Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema spp.)
- Description: Evergreen perennial from tropical Asian forests. Contains numerous leaves, patterned or variegated.
- Pollutants purified: Formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and trichloroethylene.
- Growing conditions: Grows well in well-drained soil and filtered light.
- Care: Provide humid conditions by regularly misting with water, or place the plant above trays of water. Water the plant moderately, allowing soil to nearly dry before it is watered. Fertilize every month during active growth, and repot every 2-3 years.
- Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
- Description: A small cluster-forming palm plant from Madagascar, a small cluster-forming palm plant. According to NASA, the Areca Palm is extremely effective at purifying and humidifying indoor air .
- Pollutants purified: Benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene.
- Growing conditions: Bright filtered light with shade
- Care: Requires large amounts of water during growth. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer during growth. Reduce watering during the winter.
For more information on how you can improve indoor air quality using natural methods, check out our other articles on air pollution.